This film is part of Free

Britain's Champion!

Chariots of Fire inspiration Lord Burghley shows off his hurdling prowess at the Amsterdam Olympics in 1928.

Non-Fiction 1928 1 mins Silent


The star of this newsreel, Lord Burghley (aka David Cecil, 6th Marquess of Exeter), provided the inspiration for the character of Lord Andrew Lindsay (played by Nigel Havers) in the film Chariots of Fire (1981). Watch him show off his hurdling prowess after his "wonderful victory" in the 400m hurdles at the Amsterdam Olympics in 1928.

Lord Burghley was a runner, Conservative MP, and later President of the IAAF (International Amateur Athletic Federation), as well as being Chairman of the Organising Committee for the 1948 London Olympics. While a student at Cambridge University, Burghley famously sprinted round the courtyard at Trinity College in the same time it took the college clock to strike midday - a challenge known as the Great Court Run. This success inspired the scene in Chariots of Fire in which Harold Abrahams achieves the same feat. Reportedly, Burghley didn't wish his name to be used in the film, as Abrahams didn't beat him - in fact, Abrahams is not known to have even attempted the run during his time at Cambridge.